Applied Geography 2 formerly RTC-TH Tech

Why Travel Internationally?

Dec 24, 2002

Below are some comments extracted from a letter from Dr. Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education ( He makes some interesting points concerning Geography and international travel and studies.

"In the days ahead, you will hear a great deal about a recent survey conducted by the National Geographic Society.??E [Note: The results of the survey are available at ]

You will probably not be surprised to learn that travel makes a difference. The U.S. ranked last in this area, too. Some 79% of the Americans polled said they had not been out of the country in the past three years. In the countries that got the A's and B's, at least three-quarters had traveled abroad.

But travel, by itself, is not a guarantee that young people understand the world in which we are living.

What needs to be taught -- and what we will be promoting again with the announcement of the 2003 winners of the Andrew Heiskell Prize --is just how vital it is to want to think on a global basis. If a young person is not encouraged to find out why their country is having problems with another country or how their country's safety and security are affected by what happens elsewhere, no one is going to be likely to be able to raise their grade. And as events like 9/11 remind us, we cannot remain ignorant as well as safe."

Gregory Lee (former LAGS President, currently CEO of ESSI, and a Professor of Geography) is organizing a trip through Thailand and Yunnan Province, China. Greg Lee has organized and led a number of international trips when he served as LAGS President. These trips were not the typical Escorted tours offered by commercial travel companies. They are filled with informal learning opportunities, some times offered with university extension credit, and almost always involve getting to places many foreign travel groups do not visit. For example, the summer 2002 trip Lee led for the LAGS visited the Three Gorges of the Yangtze, an itinerary often seen offered by commercial tour operators. But Lee planned to get the group into smaller tributaries that would be flooded by the filling of the new Three Gorges Dam. Some commercial tours see parts of these tributaries, but Lee wanted to group to get farther back off the river. They were the first foreign group to raft and boat down these tributaries. Now, three months after the trip, those areas are underwater, never to be seen again. For those travelers, those experiences and personal contacts in the small Chinese villages are once-in-a-lifetime memories. For many of the Chinese in those villages, the LAGS travelers were the first foreigners they had ever seen!

"Geography may not change the world, but it will change the way you see it", is a phrase that comes up often when talking about the subject with Lee. That is a big point with ESSI's educational programs. "Travel is a special kind of education", is another phrase you hear in this group.

Lee has set his sights on taking a small group of adventuresome travelers to see three rivers in Yunnan---the Nujiang (Salween), the Lancangjiang (Mekong), and the Jinshajiang (the upper reaches of the Changjiang or Yangtze). You learn more about this trip, go to the ESSI website to see the newsletter articles, read the trip related articles in the Our Pages section, and check for updates in the Discussion page. You can get there simply by scrolling down the green side bar on this page to the Our Hotlinks??Esection, and clicking on the ESSI link. You can also e-mail inquiries to

[Historic Note: This trip was canceled due to the announcement of the SARS outbreak.]

Last updated by earthsyssci on 05/30/2010
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